Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Richard Schmude is a chemistry professor who is fascinated by the sky – especially the planet Jupiter. Schmude is a graduate of Texas A&M and has been teaching at Gordon State College since 1994. He tours the country giving talks on astronomy, has an asteroid named after him and is the author of several books.

Safe Viewing during a Solar Eclipse
Richard W. Schmude, Jr. Gordon State College, Barnesville, GA 30204

            An eclipse occurs when the shadow of one object falls onto a second object.  A shadow has two portions.  One portion is the penumbra and the other is the umbra.   The penumbra has a light gray color.  When one stands in the penumbra, one object blocks out just part of a light source.  The umbra is darker because when you stand in it, the entire light source is blocked out.   In Barnesville, the penumbra portion of the Moon’s Shadow will pass.  This means that at least part of the Sun will be visible throughout the day.  In order for one to witness the umbra portion of the Moon’s shadow, one must travel to the northeast corner of Georgia or go to another state where the umbra will pass. 
            Since some of the Sun will be visible at all times of the solar eclipse one must not look up at it during any portion of the eclipse unless he/she has the proper glasses.  Even if just one percent of the Sun is visible it is enough to cause permanent eye damage.  To obtain more information about proper glasses go tohttps://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEhelp/safety2.html which is part of the NASA website.  It is written by Ralph Chou. 
            If you plan to have a group witness the eclipse then there are several things to remember:
1) People will be excited about the eclipse and may not be listening; 2) With a group of people there will undoubtedly be many distractions and 3) all it takes is one wrong look and permanent eye damage may occur. The most sensitive portion of the eye is the Fovea Centralis.  This is a small part at the back of the eye which enables one to read.  If this portion is damaged then one would no longer be able to read or operate a motor vehicle.
            The easiest and safest way of enjoying the eclipse is to stand under a tree shadow and look at the ground.  Between 2 and 3 p.m. you should see lots of white crescents.   The crescents will be thinnest at around 2:40 p.m.  One may also use the projection method by using a spaghetti strainer or two cards.

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